There is a picture hanging on my wall that I see every day, and every day it brings me a smooth mix of joy, sadness, and inspiration. Few things get to me in this way. So what is it about the man and this particular picture that stir such an emotional response?
It is strange to me that people don’t seem to know Sam Cooke. We recently passed what would have been his 80th birthday. They called him the “King of Soul.” A pioneer, he brought soul music from church gospels to radio stations and concert halls. He was cool of Elvis-proportions. He defined the love song. His music ranged from easy and free to haunting in passion and sorrow. He endured segregation. He stood up for his brothers and sisters. His life was filled with accolades, fame, and wealth – but matched with sorrow, hardship, and tragedy. His death was sudden, scandalous, and puzzling.
I can’t write the whole story here. I highly recommend the book Dream Boogie by Peter Guralnik, especially if you are into music, American history, business, or mystery.
Personally, I am inspired by the man, and specifically this picture. Posture relaxed, arms crossed, completely at ease and comfortable in his ability – yet, neck-strained, he gives it all he has, pouring his soul, effort, and passion into his craft. Sam was known as a perfectionist, obsessed with results – and it shows in his work. He was also known for matching that effort with a fun-loving spirit, understanding that even in work there can be passion, optimism, and joy.
I look at this picture every day, and it always reminds me to work hard, have fun, and put some love into it!
“Bring It On Home To Me” is my favorite song. Sam is teamed up with his good friend Lou Rawls. You can hear the effort – and the passion builds as a new instrument joins each verse. Turn it up!
And last but not least, can someone please make a movie about Sam’s life??? The Ray Charles and Johnny Cash movies were great – but neither of them have a story like Sam. Universe, please give me a Sam Cooke movie. Thank you.